I am tired
Terrorized Iranian's journal of hope
By Moji Agha
September 14, 2001
Salaam from here and now
About 30 hours after the tragedy, I am already tired, although I got
a few hours of nervous sleep last night. I am starting this journal today,
Sept. 12, 2001. It is a few minutes after 2 p.m. here in Tucson, Arizona.
I am sitting before the computer in my home/office.
Why state the obvious?
I don't want to begin by stating the obvious. I am tired of having to
state the obvious. Like everyone else, of course I am extremely sad and
horrified. I resent that as a person of Middle Eastern origin, I am supposed
to declare that I am anguished and horrified. I am tired of the fact that
I am supposed to condemn what happened yesterday, not just because I feel
for the victims, like everyone else, but in order not to be seen as a terrorist,
in order not to be possibly attacked, in order to protect my community from
even more harm.
I want to write as a person, not a professional or civic-minded person.
I am tired. I am just tired. I am tired of having to declare that I am a
human being with a heart. I am tired of having to declare and prove my humanity.
Hiding from hatred
There are already reports of hate crimes against people who APPEAR to
be "Muslim/Middle Eastern," and not only in the U.S. In Sweden,
an Iranian cab driver was beaten up by drunk Swedes today. They accused
him of being behind the attacks in the U.S.!
I want to write about what happened yesterday in New York and Washington
D.C. and how it has impacted me so far, and I don't know exactly why. I
suppose I need to write. I have advised others and I have been advised by
well-meaning people to be cautious and keep a low profile.
A well-meaning "Victim Advocacy Coordinator" has advised: "I
urge all of you to be cautious as to what you write on this link" [the
discussion list of Iranians for International cooperation]. She is afraid,
like the rest of us, not only for our own safety from terrorist attacks,
but also for harm that could come to us from racist hatred.
I have been told to hide in order to shield myself from such blind rage
and hatred. Since 9 a.m. yesterday, I have not experienced any actual hate
crimes against myself personally (except for the stares), but I have not
gone out much either. I want to write as a way of going out.
Not all are racist robots
Last night I was invited to dinner at a "White" American friend's
house in order to see that "not all of us Americans are racist robots."
Although I was tired for having been glued to the T.V. since 6:00 AM, and
I was more anxious than hungry, I went in order to avail myself to his caring
and to express my gratitude. The food was good too, especially for an American
Later on, I felt guilty for not having gone to the house of an immigrant
Iranian family (arrived recently from Iran) to comfort them and explain
the meaning of the horrible images that they were seeing on TV but could
not fully understand due to not knowing much English. I was too tired to
go to their house, but I had talked to their 16-year-old son earlier on
the phone, when he came home from school around 4 in the afternoon. I made
sure that he understood what had happened. I told him to be careful in school
or on the street and not argue with other children. Oh, I am so so so tired
of having to protect innocent children from ignorance.
The birth of a peace ambassador
Among other things that I did yesterday was to phone and congratulate
an Iranian friend whose new son was born at 7 p.m. I told him: "What
a day to to be born, what a day!" He said with his customary habit
of understating: "I have had a hectic day." My friend's American
wife (the baby's mother) and the Iranian-American newborn are fine.
Having been born on September 11, 2001, perhaps tiny Armin will grow
up to be an ambassador of peace. What will our planet look like when he
grows up? Will he be on his 43rd birthday as tired as I was yesterday? Will
he have to prove that he is not evil? I am tired of worrying about the state
of our fragile planet.
Interfaith quest for understanding
In about two hours I am going to the University of Arizona (UA) to attend
a gathering of people who want to express their feelings about the horror
on the East Coast. The memorial is a service co-conducted by a Jewish and
an Islamic organization. Its announcement was emailed to me from the Center
for Middle Eastern Studies at the University at 3:30 p.m. yesterday. Its
first paragraph reads:
"The Islamic Center of Tucson and the UA Hillel Foundation are jointly
sponsoring a memorial service on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 5 to 5:30 PM
on the UA Mall. The service will be led by Imam Omar Shahin and Rabbi Tom
Louchheim. The entire campus and Tucson community are invited to join us
in front of the UA Mall stage."
To family in Iran: We are safe
Yesterday morning, as soon as I saw the news on TV, even before the collapse
of the World Trade Center towers, I began to worry. But first I called the
houses of my brothers in California to talk to them to make sure that they
and their families are fine. Then I called the house of my other brother
in Tehran. At 7 p.m. Tehran time (7:30 a.m. Tucson time), they had not yet
heard about the news.
My 14-year-old nephew turned the TV on and saw the first news bulletin
about the tragic events in "Amrica". My brother was still at work.
I told my sister-in-law that we are all far far from the East Coast and
we are fine. She thanked me for calling them, because otherwise they would
have started to worry about us upon seeing the news. She said that she would
call the rest of the family to let them know that we are SAFE. As I was
talking to my sister-in-law, I overheard my nephew telling his 12-year-old
younger sister that they could boast to their friends that they were the
first ones to know "directly" about the news. I smiled.
The many faces of fanaticism
After I got off the phone, I went to check my emails. I tried to maintain
a sense of normality and answered a couple of them. Then I went to the website
of the Iranian.com magazine and read Setareh Sabety's "fanaticism"
essay about the tragedy, "Blond
or bearded". I shook my head.
Then I began reading the initial emails on the email discussion lists
of the Iranians for International Cooperation and of the Persian Watch Cat.
I felt the need to contribute to the discussion. I thought for a while as
to what would be useful to say, while I also kept an eye on the TV. At 9
a.m. I sent the following email to the disc lists:
"As a result of this horrible tragedy, I am very worried about
a new Middle Eastern witch hunt. There are indications that this is probably
Osama Bin Ladin's work, in which case the Taliban is finished--so some
good may come out of this afterall. But prejudice against "Middle
Eastern-looking people" (FBI's term after the Oklahoma City Bombing)
is deep. I am deeply worried about another witch hunt against people who
appear to be Middle Easterners in civilized countries. I think PWC in coordination
with CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations], should urge FBI not
to repeat their previous behavior and not whip up anti-Middle Eastern hysteria.
At present, people who look Middle Eastern should exercise extreme caution.
I pray for the lives of all the people who have been and will be negatively
Coping with a double burden
Throughout the day I kept watching the developing news and checked my
many many emails. Most of these messages expressed sadness, fear and concern
about the tragedy, but also shared ideas as to how we could shield our community
from more hate crimes, the ways we could prove our humanity--that we are
not responsible for this immense crime. I also checked various news sources
to see the Iranian government's reaction. I was hoping that the Iranian
leaders would condemn the committed atrocities, and soon. Later on Khatami
did just that to my immense relief.
Being held in the light
I also kept talking to several people on the phone. Among the people
that I called to thank was a wonderful person named Barbara. I gave her
the phone number of the Associated Press office in Arizona and suggested
that she could call them to say that regular Americans are concerned. I
suggested that maybe she could form a group to get more visibility for her
humane efforts. I was calling her because at 9:30 AM she had sent the following
email to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, entitled: "Holding
you in the light" :
"I just finished teaching my 8:00 AM class on Community Conflict
Resolution, and as a class, we agreed to reach out to the Middle Eastern
community here at the U of A. We know that the scapegoating that is common
in this country will make people of Middle Eastern heritage feel unsafe.
As Quakers say, we will hold you in the Light. Please know that there are
many of us who wish you no harm and will protect you, if needed. Let us
know if we can be of assistance during these next troubled hours and days."
Barbara and the Conflict Resolution class.
Being blind to one's own shadow
At 5 p.m., I saw the email of an Iranian friend with whom I have been
having an exchange of ideas about the nature and the evils of ideology --
namely, that ideology keeps one from seeing the reality AS IS. As part of
my email to her I said:
"I wonder if you read Setareh Sabety's piece today about the East
Coast tragedy. In it she lashes out at those "fanatics" -- another
kind of "them" as opposed to "us" freedom loving people!
And she was soooooooooooo blind to the fact that her mentality (in a different
form of us vs. them ) is partially responsible for the tragedy. But, nooooo
she is blameless -- quite holy!"
In the website of the Iranian.com magazine I read Jahanshah Javid's editorial,
smoke". I was very very disappointed. As a journalist, he should
not have rushed to judgment. Furthermore, in prematurely blaming "Islamic
fanaticism," he has inappropriately focused blind rage onto innocent
Iranians here, if not onto his country of origin. I asked myself: Does he
really care about Iran?
Where can my humanity go?
As I mentioned before, at 6:30 p.m. or so, I went to my friend's house
for dinner and for supportive companionship. I came back home around 10
p.m. I found the following chilling letter in the letters section of the
Iranian.com -- apparently to all Iranians:
Get out of my country. It will never be the same with you here.
I was too tired to be able to respond. I watched the news some more.
The only thing that gave me some comfort was President Khatami's strong
condemnation of the terrorist attack and his expression of profound sympathy
for the "American nation." I finally went to bed around midnight,
but could not sleep well. What a surprise!
I woke up at 5:30 a.m. today (Sept. 12) and watched the news to see the
latest developments. The tone of the news and professional commentators
has become more strident, but fortunately they are focusing more on Osama
Bin Laden and to some extent on Iraq. Iran's name is mentioned much less
frequently. This gives me some comfort.
At 6 a.m. I sent the following response to the writer of the letter above:
"This is in response to your letter to the Iranian: "Get out."
I can't get out, I am an American "immigrant" of the Middle Eastern
origin, the same way you are--although your later ancestors were probably
"Europeans" (after they moved West from the Middle East). So,
you are a Middle Eastern immigrant citizen of this country too, if you
go back to only 4000 years ago. But, I will not call you a terrorist and
will not ask you to get out of "my country" just because Tim
McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bomber) and Ted Kezinski (the Unibomber) were "white"
as probably you are. Please remember you are a human being who abhors victimizing
innocent people. Right?"
Uniting against ignorance
It is 6:30 p.m. now. I have just come back from the memorial session
at the University of arizona. Seeing Jewish and Islamic clergymen next to
one another was really really good. It reminded me of Hafiz:
maghsood-e man az ka'bevo botkhaneh toyee tow
maghsood toyee ka'bevo botkhaneh bahaaneh
Who I intend by the Ka'beh (Islamic holy shrine) or the house of idols
is Thou [the Beloved]
Thou are the intended one, Ka'beh or the house of idols are just excuses
It was really good to see a Jewish rabbi and an Islamic imam next to
one another, hand in hand, both calling for understanding. The imam said:
"If you want to be understood, understand others." The rabbi nodded
his head vigorously.
On the way there I felt the gazes (like the days after the Oklahoma City)
-- and I look not as "Middle Eastern" as some other men.
Who is misguided?
As I was standing in the back of the crowd at the memorial I saw a perhaps
20-year-old boy (and I am assuming he was a "Christian" fundamentalist)
who shouted at the crowd -- thinking they are Muslims and Jews -- saying
that we were all "misguided". Or was he one of those who are calling
for "nuking" the "ragheads and the sand-niggers" and
believe that holding a memorial is "misguided"?
I wanted to go and talk to him, but I was afraid of calling attention
to myself and to the scuffle that he would probably start, and it would
be undoubtedly reported as a violent incident involving a "Middle Easterner"
by the local media who were heavily present, and almost all of them like
sensationalism in order to sell ads, so they usually speak to the lowest
instincts of their audience.
Cruelty takes humanity's breath away
My mind went to the tragic scene of the Palestinian women and children
rejoicing -- the scene that was shown on TV over and over. I wonder about
the kind of hell they have been through, under the boots of the so-called
"defenders of Jews," to become so incredibly "cruel".
I am worried about what the Israelis will do to them now, away from any
cameras. Indeed abuse begets abuse. Why don't the Israelis understand that?
Later on, I read an emailed letter from an Iranian woman somewhere in
the U.S. She said:
"I have not been able to take a breath comfortably since yesterday.
My whole face is in pain just trying to control my emotions. I wish I could
cry. I wish I could turn the clock back and all this wasnot true."
Ignorance is so crude, so selfish
I later read the following among the letters of the Iranian.com, in response
to Jahanshah Javid's editorial:
"I agree with the majority of your article ["Holy smoke"],
particularly the part about how good you and your Muslim brothers and sisters
have it in the United States. But even hinting that there are reasons to
dislike or hate America somehow justifies these fucking animals' actions.
"Your problem in general is trying to convince other Americans
why you even live here. All we hear from Muslim groups are complaints about
how our country acts in the Middle East. Well, if you don't like it; GET
OUT!!! ALL OF YOU!!! "
Did Jahanshah Javid understand the consequences of his premature ranting
against "Islamic fanatics" so that he could presumably feel safe
in not being seen as a "fanatic"? Did he write this editorial
just to generate excitement and ad revenues? Did he think about the hate
crimes that he UNINTENTIONALLY would legitimize, to be perpetrated by the
enraged "real" Americans who want to just "kick some mother
fucking ass and flatten a few sand niggers?" Did he turn his tongue
in his mouth before he spoke? Are all of us, is the humanity engaged in
a game to just feel good NOW -- the hell with what happens to others?
I kept on reading in the letters section. A "Persian Girl"
has written a few heart-felt words in response to the guy who told all Iranians
to "get out" of "his" country. She reminds him, in a
tone almost as harsh as his, that he is not a native of this continent either.
She has continued:
"Do you wanna know why we left our country and emigrated to "YOUR"
country? Because the U.S. screwed up our country by allowing [causing?]
the revolution to happen, by buying our oil at the cheapest price possible,
by making war between Iran and Iraq to be able to sell weapons, and by
interfering in every single thing happening there. So if we're living here
and you don't like it, blame it on your government!"
We need enemies
I saw on CBS the extensive interview that Dan Rather had with the Democrat
Senator, Joseph Biden, the chairman of the U.S. Senate's Armed Services
(or Foreign Relations?) Committee. He said in no uncertain terms that "evidence"
is mounting which points to Osama Bin Laden, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He essentially threatened the Pakistani government to join the "civilized
coalition" to fight terrorism, or else. He said for the first time
that the Taliban were brought to power by Pakistan--not mentioning that
this was with direct involvement by Saudi Arabia, and with the U.S. support,
for the purpose of encircling or "containing" Iran.
Now, the Taliban has turned against the U.S. much the same way that Saddam
Hossein did after he served his obedient role in "containing"
Iran. Remember how all kinds of economies got a big boost as a result of
arms sales to both Iraq and Iran, to feed the cruel beast that was an 8-year-long
Senator Biden said that our "friends" in the Arab world must
choose between good and evil. He reminded Saudi Arabian rulers that Osama
is a former "disgraced" citizen of their country. This sounded
like asking these oil rich rulers to essentially pony up a large portion
of the costs of this war against terrorism, or else. He said that the Egyptian
President and the King of Jordan have already promised "full cooperation"
in being part of this coalition. Do they have any choice?
Dan Rather asked him if the U.S. was going to try to bring Iran into
this coalition. Biden was visibly uncomfortable answering this question.
He said that this coalition is against all terrorists and states that aid,
train, or encourage terrorists. He essentially said that the U.S. government
would not invite Iran into the coalition but would expect Iran to "stand
down" --remain neutral.
I wonder why is it that despite Iran's common interest with the U.S.
with regard to terrorism, the Taliban and the flow of drugs, they don't
want Iran's joining their "holy" coalition against "the evil
of terrorism?" Could it be because they NEED Iran as an enemy? If the
hostile rhetoric of all Israeli leaders these days are any indication, the
answer is Yes. Are they keeping open the option of destroying Iran's not-yet-operational
nuclear power plant in Bushehr, under the pretext of fighting the "state
infrastructure of nuclear terrorism?"
Searching for hope on the football field - part 1
I checked the website of iransportspress.com and the persianfootball.com
to see the latest news about the Iran-Bahrain World Cup qualifying game
on Friday. FIFA has allowed the games to resume on Friday (Sept.14) in Asia.
I thought that if Iranian players, people, or leaders showed some gesture
of sympathy toward the American nation's tragedy, it would be a wonderful
way of counteracting the dehumanization of "Middle Easterners"
in the "civilized" world. As to what specific thing I would like
them to do, I did not have any thought at that point.
Dreaming for power at any cost
I was finally hungry. I had something to eat. Then I went back to my
computer and read a recently arrived email about what the Shah's son, Reza
Pahlavi had said. Appearing on a Spanish-speaking cable channel Mr. Pahlavi
had "shamelessly put the blame on the doorsteps of the Iranian government."
He apparently had said that the Islamic regime supports these terrorists
morally, financially, etc. and that "all [terrorism] roads end in Tehran."
The author of the email said that "Mr. Pahlavi either does not understand
the impact of his words or is so irresponsible and selfish to be ready to
potentially sacrifice the country and great many Iranians for his goals."
The author of this email had continued:
"[He] should know that the American public and the government are
justifiably angry and are going to retaliate very harshly...He must have
heard the President saying that he is not going to distinguish between
the perpetrators of these inhumane acts with the country that harbors them...
How do you know Mr. Pahlavi [who was responsible, without investigation]?
Shame on you."
An American contributor to the disc list of the Iranians for International
Cooperation had said:
"The U.S. reportedly dropped more bomb tonnage on Iraq during the
Persian Gulf War than all the ordnance expended during the Second World
War. The ability to retaliate is immense. Indeed Mr. Pahlavi has no concept
of what he is inviting."
I called and talked about this to a couple of my American friends. One
said: "What Reza Pahlavi has said, given the gravity of the situation,
is pure treason against his country." Another American friend from
New York said: "This is the era of PR my friend...The military industrial
complex needs for its puppets to be more than ruthless and power hungry
these days... Stupid puppets need not apply."
I finally went to bed before midnight on Wednesday Sept. 12. My sleep
was a bit less agitated than the previous night. I was so tired, so tired
of people who say they love their country, love humanity, but all they love
is their own selfish interests.
Nostradamus was right?
On Thursday Sept. 13, I woke up at 6:00 AM. I found the following email
on the discussion list of the Persian Watch Cat:
"Someone just forwarded this to me; I'm not a believer in this
sort of thing--but found it interesting, if nothing else..
In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two Brothers [WTC?] torn apart by Chaos,
while the fortress [pentagon?] endures,
the great leader will succumb.
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.
In the year of the new century and nine months,
From the sky will come a great King of Terror...
The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
Fire approaches the great new city....
I found the specificity of this particular Nostradamus "prediction"
particularly suspect, especially its second part. I wondered if it was a
hoax. I know of some "Christian" fundamentalist groups in the
US who insist that we are close to the second coming of Christ. They insist
that Nostradamus' predictions are accurate. I wondered if this group was
behind the hoax, just to capitalize on the opportunity to get some attention.
Later in the afternoon, I found through an email on the same discussion
list that indeed this so-called prediction was a hoax. I guess it was too
precise to be true. I did not have time to check into which groups or individuals
were behind the lie. However, later on I felt a bit guilty about judging
these possibly fanatical "Christian" fundamentalist groups without
any evidence. I did not have time, however, to linger too much on my own
imperfection. It sure is easier to find fault with others. Who wants to
look inside nowadays?!
Searching for hope on the football field - part 2
Before noon, I finally had an idea on what peace gesture could be expressed
in the Iran-Bahrain game. I composed the following email and throughout
the afternoon hours I sent it to as many sources as I could think of:
"Please pass this on to all who would ACT ON IT QUICKLY!
Tomorrow is Iran-Bahrain Game at the Azadi stadium in Tehran. It is
the first world cup sports event after the U.S. East Coast tragedy. I wanted
to suggest that something symbolic be done before the game to show Iranian
sympathy with the American people.
Perhaps, President Khatami (if he would go to the game) could release
a white pigeon (kabootar) in the air --or maybe the players could each
fly a white bird in order to show love for peace--or some similar gesture.
If they decide to do it, this should be communicated via a press release
to the wires/press (AP, AFP, BBC, etc...) to get coverage. Please pass
this suggestion ASAP to whoever you think would act on it quickly. It is
a unique opportunity. Thanks."
In the evening, I saw in the news segment of the persianfootbal.com (PFDC)
-- to which I had sent my email above several hours earlier, the following:
A Request to IFF
Thursday, September 13, 2001
"PFDC has sent a letter to the Iranian Football Federation (IFF)
in regards to the tragedy of the World Trade Center which left the whole
world in state of shock. With this letter, PFDC and its members have requested
that the Iranian players wear a black ribbon in their Friday's game against
Bahrain as a sign of solidarity and compassion with the people of the United
States. Below you can find this letter in Farsi which was sent to IFF today."
In the Persian Football Community Forum (message board) of the same
website I found the following post by the "Iranman" :
"AFTER FIFA APPROVED THE GAMES TO GO AHEAD IN ASIA, IFF ANNOUNCED
THIS MORNING THAT THERE WOULD BE A ONE MINUTE SILENCE BEFORE THE FRIDAY'S
MATCH BETWEEN IRAN AND BAHRAIN IN THE AZADI STADIUM."
I called the Arizona office of the Associated Press (AP) and gave them
the news. The man who answered said he would pass it on to their international
and sports wires and would notify AP people in Tehran.
It is about 11:30 PM now. I am planning to shave, take a shower and try
to get some sleep. In a few hours, I am to go to the house of my friend,
the father of Armin (the baby who came to this strange world on Tuesday
Sept. 11, 2001), to visit the family for the first time after the baby's
birth, and to watch the Iran-Bahrain game live on their satellite TV at
6:00 AM Tucson time.
My intent needs no gift wrap
I have not had time to go out and buy a gift for the newborn. I have
decided to take as a gift, a ceramic vase that my older uncle (dayee jaan)
brought for me from Iran several years ago. I don't have the time or the
talent to properly gift wrap the little cobalt blue vase, in some box covered
with some nice gift wrapping paper. I am taking it in a grocery bag. I know
it is not graceful, but I figure they recognize my intent and forgive me
for being a regular male. Afterall, my friend is a male football player
and the baby is a boy. His mother will have to understand. Good night for
Armin was wondering
It is now 9 a.m. Friday Sept. 14 and I am back from my friend's place
where I saw with disappointment Iran's 0-0 draw with Bahrain. Before the
game started, I actually watched what has been reported in the following
report, which I found in my first email this morning:
"Tehran, Sept. 14, IRNA -- Iranian and Bahraini soccer players
on Friday observed a minute of silence before starting their match in Tehran's
Azadi Stadium, to honor the victims of the terror attacks in the United
States. It came after around 200 young Tehranis held a silent, candle-lit
gathering in Tehran on Thursday evening, many wearing black in a sign of
This was heartening. I hope it gets reported by the Western media widely.
One funny comment brought needed laughter to the room when an Iranian commentator
of the game was complaining about the poor quality of refereeing in the
game. Most of the bad calls were against Iran, as usual. The commentator
said: "The right side referee (linesman) calls every tackle as a foul,
while the main referee will not call a foul unless you bring him a doctor's
note." We laughed. It was also amazing how "fragile" the
Bahraini players appeared to be. They would fall on the ground as if they
were leaves in a fall windstorm. I am sure wasting time in order to force
a draw in Tehran was not on their minds at all!
As for the baby, although I insisted per Iranian custom, I did not get
to see the little Armin, who was in sound sleep in the back bedroom. In
the 15-minute break in between the two periods of the football game, as
we were eating breakfast, Armin's proud papa showed us his very first picture.
With his large, open and alert eyes he was "reflectively" looking
to the side, his little right fist underneath his chin. I said: "Wow,
look at those eyes, he will become a philosopher." His footballist
father said: "He is asking, should I shoot or pass the ball?"
As we were laughing, I silently wondered if he was reflecting on the meaning
being born, as an Iranian-American, on Tuesday September 11, 2001.
An unlikely beneficiary of terror?
In another email, I found about a report by The New York Times
which "was apparently taken off their active list of articles"
(on their website) but it "may be still available on-line." In
this report, a former right wing Israeli Prime Minister has been interviewed.
Part of the report says:
"Asked tonight [last night] what the attack meant for relations
between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime
minister, replied, "It's very good." Then he edited himself:
"Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy."
The current Israeli Prime Minister has been reported as saying that this
attack on the U.S. was the worst thing that could have happened to Arafat.
It has been reported that in the past 72 hours the Israelis have killed
at least 14 Palestinians.
The latest events
I watched the game this morning with my 16-year-old Iranian friend --
the younger son of the family that I talked about above. He said that in
his high school he has not been attacked but feels the stares of the other
children. On my way back to my home/office, as I was dropping him off at
his school after the game, I noted the long and suspicious gaze of a man,
who could be the father of another child at the school. It brought back
all the memories of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Oh how I wish that the perpetrators of this atrocity the other day would
turn out to be "regular" Americans! But the reports are to the
contrary. As it has been reported widely, there have been numerous incidents
of hate crime, harassment, beatings, vandalizing and intimidation against
"Middle Eastern/Muslim-looking" persons, families, businesses,
buildings, and organizations around the U.S. if not around the world.
There has also been many many reports of such targeted people, including
Iranians, showing their horror at the events, but also taking courageous
individual and collective steps to express sympathy with the many victims
of this tragedy, with their families, and with the American nation. I really
feel resentful that we should be victimized twice. Not only we feel the
weight of the tragedy, but also we have to shield ourselves. Because of
this, I feel even angrier at the terrorists, but I know if I show my anger,
I would be seen as dangerous. So, I feel as if I am taken hostage by ignorance.
It has been reported that the number of people killed in this incident
is over 5,000, over 200 of which died at the Pentagon. The number of casualties
is estimated to be at least twice that number. Of the number of the dead,
I fear that at least a couple dozen have been persons of Iranian origin.
All the planes who were crashed were headed for California, where over a
million Iranians live. It is truly horrible.
As I am writing these words, the National Public Radio is reporting that
the FBI has released the name of 19 "suspects" (all apparently
dead) as the actual terrorists who committed these suicidal acts of horror.
It is reported that 7 of them have been pilots, at least one trained in
a flight training school in Florida. All their names sound Arabic. The reports
say that these are all member of the terrorist organization headed by Osama
Bin Laden. They say that his organization has been technologically quite
sophisticated. As a result of this, I wonder if our community is set to
experience even more barriers to its technological advancement, just because
we may be dangerous.
A few minutes ago (it is now around 1:00 PM, Sept. 14) I saw the interview
on ABC with the U.S. Secretary of State General Colin Powel. He talked about
how much progress they have made in building the coalition to fight the
"war" against terrorism. What disturbs me is that he said that
this is a new kind of war, because the "enemy also lives among us."
Is our community moving toward being interred like the Japanese after the
Pearl Harbor attack? It has been said that the number of the victims of
this terrorist attack is far higher than the number of people who died on
that "day of infamy" over 50 years ago.
Finally: Absolutely positive proof that it wasn't us
I am tired of all this, but I cannot give in to fear. I cannot to give
in to helplessness, hopelessness. Rather, I am going to insist to keep hope
alive. I am going to try my hardest to be a human being. I am even going
To this end, I hereby present a bitterly funny observation of these tragic
events by one of the most prominent political satirists of contemporary
Iran: Mr. Ibrahim Nabavi. I found this satiric gem in one of my latest emails
this afternoon. He says:
"Tuesday's operation was [reportedly] the result of punctual team
work of a group of 50 terrorists. Since Iranians are always late for all
events and usually don't get involved in any [serious] team work, positively
they could not be responsible for these attacks. If a group of 50 Iranians
[ever mange] to make a plan for a [terrorist] project, before they can
materialize it they would split into a few separate groups and destroy
each other, before they get a chance to inflict any harm on anyone else."